Tree cleanup is latest headache for storm-weary residents

January 24, 2012

Fallen tree branches, scattered across the landscape like so many broken Lincoln Logs, continue to bedevil road crews and residents days after a major snowstorm and crippling ice storm rolled across Western Washington.

The task to clean up downed trees posed a challenge as the region faced a long power outage and difficult road conditions.

“From a tree damage standpoint, this has been very high,” city Arborist Alan Haywood said Jan. 23. “It’s not as catastrophic as the big windstorms we’ve had, because we did not have many real large trees come down and come down on houses and do that kind of damage.”

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Voters to decide fire station replacement

January 24, 2012

Many Issaquah-area residents should receive ballots in the days ahead as Fire District 10 asks voters to approve a bond for a replacement fire station meant to improve response times.

By Dona Mokin

Officials said a fire station built in May Valley could improve response times for rural residents and alleviate the workload for Fire Station 71 along East Sunset Way in downtown Issaquah — a station responsible for serving many neighborhoods inside city limits.

In a measure put before voters in a Feb. 14 special election, the district is asking voters to approve a $5.5 million bond to fund a rebuilt Station 78 and improvements to other fire stations throughout the sprawling district. The price tag for the rebuilt station alone is expected to reach $4.5 million.

Ballots should start to reach residents in unincorporated King County near Issaquah after Jan. 25.

Fire District 10 is the Eastside Fire & Rescue partner serving residents in Klahanie, May Valley, Preston and Tiger Mountain in the Issaquah area, plus Carnation in rural King County. The district encompasses about 130 square miles and about 28,000 people.

Officials plan to use bond dollars to relocate crews from Fire Station 78 from 16135 S.E. 113th Place near Renton to a modern facility at a more central location at Southeast May Valley Road and 207th Avenue Southeast.

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Ordinance faces test as marijuana collective applies for license

January 24, 2012

In the initial test for a landmark medical marijuana ordinance enacted last month, a patient-run collective at the center of discussions about changes to city rules applied for licenses to operate.

The application from the nonprofit medical marijuana operation, GreenLink Collective, came after planners, officials and residents crafted a medical marijuana ordinance designed to balance public safety concerns and patients’ access to the drug.

GreenLink organizers applied to occupy units E, F and G in a commercial building at 160 N.W. Gilman Blvd. The organization does not intend to grow marijuana in the space. GreenLink founders Jake and Lydia George applied for the license on behalf of the organization Dec. 19, the day the ordinance took effect.

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Snowplow crews toil day and night to clear Issaquah streets

January 24, 2012

Come winter, the nonstop struggle between man and Mother Nature unfolds in a teeth-rattling ride aboard city snowplows.

Kyle Patterson, a city snowplow driver, maneuvers through the Montreux neighborhood to remove snow from streets Tuesday afternoon. By Warren Kagarise

Snow, split into quarters from tire tracks, clung to the streets just before sunset Jan. 17 in Montreux, a tony neighborhood on Cougar Mountain named for a city in the Swiss Alps. In methodical maneuvers, city snowplow driver Kyle Patterson edged back and forth along cul-de-sac after cul-de-sac, pushing snow from the roadway to form dirt-flecked berms along the street.

In the process, snow cascades from the plow and light powder is compacted into something more akin to spackle.

Each large snowplow truck in the city fleet resembles a mustard-yellow box atop gargantuan tires, a Tonka toy for a giant. Empty, a large truck tips the scales at about 30,000 pounds. Loaded, full of sand and de-icing fluid, the total balloons to about 60,000 pounds.

(The city operates seven snowplow trucks, a larger model for main roads and a smaller model for difficult-to-maneuver side streets.)

The drivers, dressed in fluorescent jackets the same color as a highlighter pen, ride in the snowplow cabs beneath a flashing amber light. Most drivers use earplugs to block noise from the rumbling engine and brakes screeching like a pterodactyl.

The job requires a nimble hand on the steering wheel and the levers used to manipulate the plow — not to mention patience, precision and pluck — for the lumbering trucks remain susceptible to the same road hazards as other vehicles, despite the bulk and chains meant to ensure traction.

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Increased fireplace use impacted air quality

January 24, 2012

The air in Issaquah turned thick with wood smoke Jan. 20 as residents lit fireplaces for warmth amid a regional power outage.

The agency responsible for monitoring air quality in the region, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, ranked the air quality in King County as moderate for days last week.

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Region’s blood supply plummets 70 percent amid snowstorm

January 24, 2012

Puget Sound Blood Center issued a call for blood and platelets after donations plummeted 70 percent due to the snowstorm and icy road conditions.

The winter weather caused the cancellation of dozens of blood drives. The total loss of donations is expected to reach more than 2,000 units. Officials said the drop-off is the largest weather-related impact experienced by the Puget Sound Blood Center in many years.

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Issaquah Community Center offers residents shelter

January 24, 2012

The mercury dipped and the lights turned dark as crews raced to restore power across the region.

The city and the American Red Cross partnered to turn the Issaquah Community Center into a 24-hour shelter amid a dayslong blackout. The refuge opened late Jan. 19, after a rare ice storm sent tree limbs tumbling to earth and snow lingered on roadways.

Barry Morgan (right), American Red Cross volunteer, registers the 100th client at the Issaquah Community Center at 3 p.m. Jan. 20 for a place to stay. Volunteer Stan McKenzie and service dog Katsu are at left. By Greg Farrar

The shelter provided 35 shelter nights — or number of overnight stays — to residents from Issaquah and other Eastside communities. Teams at the shelter handled 244 drop-in visits, and served 778 snacks and meals to clients.

Some shelter clients spread out on cots for the night. Other people stopped in for a hot snack or a hotter shower. The shelter offered some a chance to unwind after stressful days in powerless residences.

“They were feeling cooped up in the house with the kids in particular,” said Stephanie Schoo, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit organization. “It was good to have a warm, safe place for the kids to get to play and sprawl out.”

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Fire destroys Tiger Mountain home, dogs perish

January 24, 2012

Flames sparked by a generator in a garage caused a blaze and destroyed a Tiger Mountain house near Issaquah.

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County permitting agency waives fees for damage inspections

January 24, 2012

Unincorporated King County residents facing damage from recent snow and ice storms can receive building inspections compliments of the King County Department of Development and Environmental Services.

The agency waived the associated fee to help homeowners speed up repairs. The county permitting agency is also giving priority service to damaged structures in need of permits for repair work.

Inspectors evaluate the integrity of structures, assess whether a structure is safe to occupy and decide whether a permit is required for repair work.

Inspectors may also advise customers of the need to pursue a more detailed inspection from a licensed structural engineer to determine the extent of the damage.

Though the fee for inspections is waived, standard permit fees still apply. Permits may be required before performing certain nonbuilding-related repairs, such as hazardous tree removal, if trees sit in environmentally critical areas. But permits can be issued retroactively if a tree poses imminent danger to people or property.

Call 206-296-6630 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, to request a damage inspection.

Permits can be issued over the counter at the Department of Development and Environmental Services office, 900 Oakesdale Ave. S.W., Renton, for minor repairs.

Contact Bernard Moore, building inspection supervisor, at 206-296-6762, or bernard.moore@kingcounty.gov; or Chris Ricketts, building official, at 206-296-6750, or chris.ricketts@kingcounty.gov, to learn more.

Weather postpones mayor’s State of the City address

January 24, 2012

The potential for snow prompted city leaders to cancel the Jan. 17 City Council meeting and reschedule Mayor Ava Frisinger’s State of the City address.

The mayor is due to deliver the annual speech at the Feb. 6 council meeting. The address, plus a council goal-setting retreat each spring and the budget proposal each fall, helps form the municipal budget and priorities for the year ahead.

The council meets at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall South, 135 E. Sunset Way.

The latest State of the City address comes as Frisinger and other leaders offer a renewed focus on economic development and reorganize City Hall operations.

In the 2011 address, Frisinger predicted “a momentous year for Issaquah” — and many milestones outlined in the speech came to pass in the months soon afterward. The city preserved the Park Pointe site on Tiger Mountain after a yearslong process, opened ultra-“green” Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 72 and joined Swedish Medical Center to inaugurate the Swedish/Issaquah campus.

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